I recently read an e-article in Church Growth Magazine (by Don Corder). In this article the author tells of a conversation that he had with a young single mother who was wondering if she would be “allowed” to attend his church. This young woman had not grown up in a church community and had the impression that churches required membership in the form of Baptism and 10% dues. This young woman had no understanding of salvation, scripture, or grace. “As troubling as this is, what is more concerning is what she thought she knew. She thought/knew that “some” churches hate gay people, women, minorities and immigrants. She thought/knew that some churches require ten percent of her income to attend and others would not let her speak because she is a woman.”
The article went on to point out that our popular culture does a fantastic job misrepresenting “church” and actual church-goers are not effectively sharing their truth of real-life church or faith experiences.
There are many reasons why it is hard and scary to share a part of our lives that is personal. We’ve been taught to keep silent for the sake of “polite” conversation. We forget the call to share the good news and instead treasure our faith in the safety of our home church. Is there a person near you whose life would change for the better if they knew what you do on Sundays? Probably. I invite you to take in this story and imagine instead of “giving up” something for Lent, imagine “taking on” a challenge to share your faith in some fashion this Lenten season.
Our little congregation has started on the path of faith-sharing by preparing to reach out to our community. We prepare our door hangers, inviting our neighbors to come and find a church home with us. This is a good start – the other part of this article reminds us that new folks may come with different expectations of “church”. We should also be prepared to welcome people as they are and share with them the goodness we’ve received from God as well as the faith community we cherish.